Friday, November 14th 2008 [ versión español ]
Literature that comes from the streets was heard in Mayagüez. That was the title of the Masters Conference given by the renown Mexican author, Elena Poniatowska Amor, this past Thursday, October 30, at the College of Engineers of Puerto Rico, in Mayagüez. This activity is included as an event on the Cultural Agenda and part of the celebration of UPRM’s centennial.
In a room packed with people waiting anxiously to hear her, Poniatowska lectured on literary testimonies or what she calls “what comes from the streets.” According to the author this is the type of literature that we make every day, in what we perceive as the voice in the story, by means of memories, dialogues that speak for themselves and tell their own stories. Within this genre, collective memory plays an important role, and from it we are nurtured, she sustained.
For the writer, dedicating herself to literature wasn’t something she expected. As she indicated to UPRM Press, her true passion was to become a singer, but instead of using the musical staff to express herself, she changed paths towards journalism to tell the stories of others. Each one of her works challenges her to give a voice to characters that don’t know each other, and she makes sure the plot in her works includes people who don’t have access to newspapers, she explained.
To speak about literary testimonies, Poniatowska took a journey through diverse events in Mexico’s history. One of the most significant, according to Poniatowska is that in which resulted from the activist movement by Mexican student’s, which sparked the massacre entitled The Night of Tlatelolco.
“Literary testimonies announce something, they bring to light a hidden act, they give a presence to the people, to those who are rejected and they respond to societal changes. Moreover, they present political problems, speak of massacres, rummage through the trash. Popular personages aren’t the winners. However, the people who don’t have a voice possess the most powerful voice,” stated the prize-winning author.
“That is why each one of their stories serves to write the history of those who appear not to have one, because they live in situations of oppression, misery and marginalization. Therefore, testimony will be the only way to uncover the truth and the great diversity and wealth of these human beings,” concluded Poniatowska.
According to doctor Antonio González Quevedo, President of the Centennial Celebration Committee, Poniatowska’s visit, her “wisdom and experience serve as motivation to continue with our true enthusiasm to be a good University.”
Elena Poniatowska, more than having received some of the most important prizes of Hispanic American literature, such as Premio Alfaguara 2001 for her novel, La Piel del Cielo (The Skin of Heaven) and Rómulo Gallegos in 2007, has been one of the most important figures in the Mexican political life.
“Her testimonial book, The Night of Tlatelolco, her exchanges with sub commander Marcos, and her participation in the movement that disputed the election of the actual Mexican President, the event to which she dedicated her last book, are of importance to everyone,” mentioned doctor Anayra Santory Jorge, member of the UPRM committee for cultural promotion.
According to Santory, “Poniatowska has decorated her prose with her unbreakable promise to give a voice to those that no one listens to, whether they are victims of political repression, poverty, whatever type of marginalization, or natural disasters.”
In closing, Poniatowska shared with the audience and answered questions from the public that waited for the “voice of Mexico” to autograph their books.
The prize winning Mexican author Elena Poniatowska gave the masters conference Literature that come from the streets as part of the events in celebration of the UPRM Centennial.
Those who were present at the conference had the opportunity to enter the literary world of the author who gives a voice to the marginalized.
In a room packed with people waiting anxiously to hear her, Poniatowska lectured on literary testimonies or what she calls “what comes from the streets”.
From left to right: Doctor Antonio González Quevedo, doctor Anayra Santory Jorge, the Author, and the Dean of the Arts and Sciences Faculty, doctor Moisés Orengo, present her with a reminder of her visit.
Elena Poniatowska shared with the audience and answered questions from the public. In the photo, Rebecca Carrero Figueroa from UPRM Press interviews the author.
Photographs by Carlos Díaz / UPRM Press